Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Summer Travels

Now that we are officially into Autumn, I wanted to share a few summer travel memories with all of you. Most of these trips I've posted about on other forms of social media, but I never discussed here. And some of them I have video footage for, but never got around to editing . . . Is it too late to make them into videos? 

May 30-June 11: American Road Trip
The biggest trip of the summer was the cross country road trip I took with my best friend. She moved out to Colorado, so I drove out with her. However, we didn't drive straight to Colorado. Our course went Massachusetts>Niagara Falls, NY>Louisville, KY> Nashville, TN> Memphis, TN>Dallas, TX> Santa Fe, NM> Salida, CO> Erin's New Home, CO. I vlogged the entire trip, and you can watch every episode on my YouTube. 
Before we left, I was a little nervous about taking part in a road trip because I don't enjoy being in the car for long periods of time. However, I didn't end up minding the drive at all. Erin and I listened to some playlists and podcasts to pass the time. Not to mention, random topics of conversation that came up along the way. And I think my South Carolina trip last year helped me prepare.
This trip was amazing, and it was a great way to see cities I probably wouldn't have seen otherwise. Some cities just don't warrant more than a few days, so making them stops on our road trip was perfect.

July 16: Martha's Vineyard
And just when I thought I had seen the last of Erin for a while, she was back a month later to go on her family vacation to Martha's Vineyard, MA. Erin's family has always told us to come to visit while they were on the island, but the scheduling never worked out until now. This was my first time properly on Martha's Vineyard (I had been once before for tennis, but it was during the offseason). We had a lot of fun at the beach relaxing and enjoying each others company.

July 20-21: New Hampshire
My aunt and uncle own a house in New Hampshire, so every year we go up and spend the day on their boat. We usually plan the weekend around the birthday of my aunt's sister so that we can celebrate that as well. There was a tense moment when we saw a snake in the water. It wasn't near enough to do anything to us, but being able to see it meant it was too close. This year we mixed it up with a pinata, which was hilarious to watch being smashed open.

July 27-28: Pennsylvania
My friend, Vanessa, who I met when I was studying abroad in London (if you watch my YouTube from that time, she's the one that we kinda, sorta, not really, almost got stabbed together), invited me to her apartment in Philly for her 21st birthday. I went back and forth about whether or not I was going to go, but in the end, decided to. Vanessa also let me bring my friend Megan as a travel buddy, which was nice. Before celebrating, Megan and I went to see the Liberty Bell, but we didn't have a lot of time, so we didn't spend much time in the little museum it's housed in.

August 24-25: Maine
When Megan isn't going on last-minute trips to Philidelphia with me, she lives in Maine. I really wanted to see her new apartment before I left, so a group of us made it a point to go up to Maine for a weekend. We ate delicious donuts, saw a moose made completely out of chocolate, and walked on the beach. It was the last weekend we were all going to be together because I was leaving for Scotland and another friend of ours, Jessie, was leaving for Montana. We had so much fun and Megan and Carli ended up throwing us a mini going away party with crowns and wine.

September 3-?: Scotland
And then, of course, I left the country at the end of the summer to study my mater's degree in Scotland. I'm still here, which is a good sign and I'll be updating you as the months go by. There are no direct flights from Boston to Edinburgh, but both flights went smoothly. Summer is officially over and school is in session, but that doesn't mean I don't intend on doing some traveling while I'm here . . . 


Friday, September 20, 2019

Books I Read in August

To All The Boys I've Loved Before Series by Jenny Han
This series was the perfect summer read. They were quick to read and super enjoyable. The first two books are continuous with the second one starting immediately where the first ends and the third book jumps a year into the future. All three chronicle the love story between Lara Jean and Peter. Their story starts when Lara Jean's love letters get sent out, and she and Peter decide to pretend date. Peter agrees to move past his ex-girlfriend, and Lara Jean agrees to avoid talking to her sister's ex-boyfriend, who was also a recipient of one of her letters. The books cover their junior and senior years as they try to navigate a relationship that starts as a lie and then develops into something more. They're thrown curveballs when people from their past come back and when they need to decide whether or not going to two different colleges will affect them. I enjoyed this series because I think it covers a lot of relatable topics.
I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon
I need to preface this by saying that I am fascinated with the story of Anastasia Romanov. It was one of my absolute favorite movies growing up (my mom bought me the Blu-ray DVD for Christmas when I was in high school). I did a research project on the Romanov's when I was a freshman in high school. I saw the broadway play my senior year of college. And I've listened to the My Favorite Murder episode about their execution. So I already knew a lot about Anastasia's life, and I was very excited to read Lawhon's novel about her but
This book was amazing. It's deemed historical fiction, so as I was reading, I kept saying, "Oh, this character/situation isn't real." But after a quick google search, I would find that the character/situation was real. Lawhon's author note offers more information about her research and the creative liberties she took to make the story more straightforward for readers to follow. But in my opinion, this book was only about 15% fiction. It was amazing to read about Anastasia Romanov's life in this form, and I would HIGHLY recommend anyone who enjoys historical fiction to give it a read. I went into the story knowing the truth, but the question of whether or not Anna Anderson is Anastasia Romanov is the main focus of the book. Lawhon's use of perspective and time will have you going back and forth on what you believe the truth is until the very last page. And then another question arises: No matter the truth, would we care about Anastasia Romanov if it wasn't for Anna Anderson?
Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco
This book has been sitting on my bookshelf for almost a year now, and I knew I was going to love it because I loved Stalking Jack the Ripper, but for some reason, it took me this long to read it. The only good thing about that was I was able to read the third book immediately after instead of waiting for the paperback to come out (review coming next month). If I could transform into a fictional character, I would turn into Audrey Rose. She's brilliant, strong-willed, curious, but she also appreciates "girly" things like her dresses. I also find her view of society really interesting because her interest in forensics goes against societal norms, but her reactions to Thomas's courting advances can be very proper. To me, Audrey Rose is a fantastic feminist character, and I appreciate Maniscalco's ability to find that balance instead of having her role turn away from societal expectations completely.
In this novel, Audrey Rose and Thomas are in Romania trying to gain a spot at a prestigious school of forensics. While they're there, murders begin, and people start to think that Prince Dracula is back from the dead. Audrey Rose is a scientist who refuses to believe this, and she wants to prove it by finding the real killer. She and Thomas start looking for clues and finding themselves in dangerous situations as they uncover more truths than just the identity of the killer. The story also furthers the relationship between Audrey Rose and Thomas, which you could probably guess I absolutely love.
I love this book because the seriousness of the murders is balanced out by the humor and charm that Thomas Cresswell provides. Again, I think Maniscalco is a master at balance.

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